Changing coaches can be a difficult transition for athletes
to make. Different coaching styles, approaches to the game and mentalities could crush anyone who needs routine time to grow under a coach.
No one understands this struggle better than ASU softball senior shortstop Cheyenne Coyle, who has had three head coaches in four years.
Coyle flourished in high school in California, where she was a four-year starter at Chatsworth High School. She received many awards and was a distinguished player despite going through the similar struggle of shuffling through four coaches in four years. The coaching changes made no difference to Coyle as she was recruited to Florida and played there for 2011-12.
As a freshman at Florida she started all 69 games with the Gators, setting freshman records in RBIs (60), walks (43) and on-base percentage (.471). More notably Coyle helped take the team to the Women’s College World Series, where they lost to ASU.
“Obviously, I would like a championship ring, because I’m the only senior that doesn’t have one, and it makes me sad,” Coyle said while chuckling to herself. “But obviously, it’s kind of cool that I was in the championship series with them.”
Coyle now plays for the team that was her demise three seasons ago, but she shows no signs of stopping. Her first outing with the Sun Devils last year was at the Kajikawa Classic, the same tournament that begins Thursday. The Sun Devils can only hope for a repeat of last year’s performance.
Strokes of luck, pure talent, beginners luck on a new team, call it what you will, but Coyle’s first week with the Sun Devils was magical. She hit five home runs, batted .474 and was named Pac-12 Player of the Week in her first outing with ASU, showing that she was on the team for a reason. She is now a loyal member of the team, and with nerves settled, she is looking forward to the coming weekend, she doesn’t insist on repeating what happened last year.
“Whenever I try to go out there and break expectations I just put too much pressure on myself,” Coyle said. “I’m just trying to go out there and be more disciplined at the plate.”
This mentality is something being emphasized this year but now coach Craig Nicholson and sports psychologist Brian Cain. Nicholson introduced the sports psychologist this year, and while many girls have never worked with one before, Coyle is used to the presence after working with one at Florida.
“It was different, more mental work in Florida, but this guy is more about attitude and understanding the process,” Coyle said. “It’s similar ideas but different approaches, and Brian Cain gets me so excited to play softball.”
Coyle’s excitement is real and her attitude is nothing but positive as the season beings. She is now a veteran member of a team looking for a championship and is ready to earn back what the Sun Devils took four years ago.
“I see how much they want it, because they’ve already had it before,” Coyle said about the seniors she now plays with that took the win their freshmen years. “They all know the feeling of winning, and I don’t, but I was there to be around them.”
Her junior year was her sixth coach in seven years, getting a new coach for her senior outing almost seems like tradition at this point. Coyle has fallen into a groove with yet another coach and has her talent thriving as much as ever, finding herself comfortable in Nicholson’s relaxed style.
“He’s one of the coolest coaches I’ve had but he still instills that you have to work hard,” Coyle said. “He’s definitely a players coach. Some coaches think about other things, but he wants everything he does to benefit the team.”
A team that Coyle now has a home in and a goal to work toward. Coyle is used to nothing but change at this point in her career, but her talent and love for the game has never wavered. The season officially starts in two days, and Coyle is poised for competition.
“I want people to think I’m confident all the time, and that’s something I want to instill in other players,” Coyle said.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @NolanKwit